(Editor’s note: this is the second installment of a two-part series on cannabis and exercise. You can find part one here.)

So you’ve read up on the benefits of combining cannabis and exercise, and you’re ready to give it a shot!

Before you hit the gym or the trail or wherever you’re getting your workout on, here are 4 tips to help you improve your fitness with cannabis:

#1) Choose your consumption method wisely

Pay close attention to the type of consumption method you choose before working out.

Smoking, as most people know, can be taxing on your lungs and create a heavy feeling in your body, which is not ideal for physical fitness.

Edibles can be good because they are felt more in your body, however it can be difficult to get your dosage just right if you’re new to edibles.

Plus, it can take up to two hours for a lot of people to feel the effects.

This is why I would recommend either a tincture or vaporizing.

With a tincture you will feel the effects sooner, usually around 30 to 45 minutes. You can use the dropper to have more accurate control over your dose size and you will feel the effects more in your body.

Whichever method you choose, the important thing is to avoid over-consuming cannabis before a workout.

You need to be completely present and consuming too much cannabis can make fast decision-making or quick reflexes more challenging for some people.

This is why vaporizing, above all, is my preferred method of consumption before exercising. The effects come within minutes giving you completely control over your dose, allowing you to adjust accordingly.

different cannabis consumption methods
Choosing the right consumption method makes all the difference!

#2) The art of strain selection

We definitely need more scientific studies on the ins and outs of using cannabis for physical fitness, but a human study showed that THC inhibited secretion of certain growth hormones, which does suggest a hindrance in muscle building.

Again, we need more studies before we can make any absolute statements about this, however, CBD is showing to counteract the potential effects of THC on muscle building and can actually bolster the endocrine system.

So what this means is that you should be sure to consume strains that have both CBD and THC in them.

I really like using the Harlequin strain – which has a 75/25 percent ratio of sativa to indica. It also has a 5:2 ratio of CBD:THC.

This strain gives me the energy I need to get going but also provides the pain relief and body effects to get more out of my workout, without having intense psychoactivity.

Each strain is going to have different effects on your body so the best thing to do is to pay attention to how each strain makes you feel when consuming it and then create your own combination for working out.

You will want a strain that will give you energy to get going, uplifting qualities to get you excited to workout, as well as focus (which is found in what dispensaries typically consider sativa strains).

It's also helpful to find a strain that will give you strong body effects, allowing you to feel more comfortable with pain, inflammation, stretching and loosening your muscles (found in what most dispensaries consider indica strains).

You can also combine cannabis products to get your desired THC-CBD balance, whether that is a tincture, flower or another delivery method, to counteract any potential loss in muscle gain.

So for me I find that I really like to combine the famous Jack Herer strain – which is known as a strong sativa strain that has energetic, uplifting and euphoric effects with the Grape Ape strain – which is known as an indica-dominant strain, that is great for pain, anti-inflammatory and feeling more aware of my body.

cannabis strains
Try mixing and matching different strains if you want to find the perfect combination.

#3) Consume and then immediately go do your physical activity

When you are consuming a strain that is felt more in your body, if you don’t take immediate action after consuming you can find that it actually ends up just relaxing you and you can quickly lose motivation to go workout.

So it’s important that you get dressed and are ready to workout right after consuming, so you use the effects of the cannabis to your advantage.

Mandee running on a trail
Once you’ve had your cannabis dose, don’t delay your workout.

#4) Day-after pain management and recovery

Your muscles are going to feel sore in the immediate days after working out and cannabis can help you here, too!

In addition to consuming strains that are especially good for anti-inflammatory and pain management, you should also consider giving cannabis topicals a try.

A topical is an infused cream, lotion, spray, or salve that you apply directly to the skin, where your sore muscles are.

The activated compounds in cannabis cream will relieve pain, inflammation, and muscle tightness in the area that you apply it.

It won’t take the pain away completely but it will help with the tightness especially. Also taking hot cannabis salt baths can be great, allowing the hot water to work with the cannabis to relieve tension in sore muscles.

cannabis cream and cannabis bath salts
If you haven’t tried cannabis topicals yet you’re in for a whole new world of healing!

A few more bonus tips!

If using cannabis with fitness is new for you and you would like to give it a try, start with a small dose and be very conscious about the effects you notice in your body while you are working out.

As with anything there is a phase of trial and error where you will be figuring out what the best strains for you will be for each activity and what the right dose will be as well.

If at any time you feel like you your cannabis consumption is impairing your ability to workout, don’t push yourself through, always put safety first, take a break until the effects lessens and then adjust accordingly next with either a different strain or smaller dose.

If you’ve tried using cannabis with physical fitness and have any tips you would like to share or strains you have found that work well with fitness, let us know in the comments below. This way we can all learn from each other as a community.

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